Monday, June 15, 2009

AFP: Former Tiananmen soldier depicts crackdown through art

AFP: Former Tiananmen soldier depicts crackdown through art

The foundation was laid for Chen?s later career as a Tiananmen artist when on the night of June 3, an officer gave him a camera and ordered him to take photos of his unit?s actions, a routine army procedure.

But he kept about 100 of his photos, which now form the basis of his paintings.

Chen was a soldier for little more than a year before he enrolled at a military-run art school, eventually qualifying for the prestigious Chinese Academy of Fine Art.

As an artist, he has pushed the envelope before, but with his Tiananmen paintings, he is venturing into new, dangerous territory. And he knows it.

"Of course, I?m worried, but everything has a risk," he said. "I?ve received phone calls from officials about my work but I can?t stop just because of that."

He feels this even more keenly when observing how others deal with the past.

"I?m still in touch with about a dozen from my old military unit. None meditates about the past the way I do. Some are policemen today, or officials. They?ve got good jobs, and they owe that to what happened back in ?89."

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